Oct 07

Mets’ Three Keys To Beating Kershaw

The Mets won their season series against the Dodgers primarily because of pitching. So, let’s assume starters Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey pitch lights out, what then will be the three keys to beating the Dodgers?

MURPHY: Needs to stay in lineup.  (AP)

MURPHY: Needs to stay in lineup. (AP)

First, they have to split in Los Angeles. There’s no way they’ll win the series if they lose the first two games, against Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. So, how do they beat two Cy Young Award candidates, beginning with Kershaw Friday night?

Since Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is a disciple to pitch counts, the Mets must work the count. If leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson squeezes out a nine-pitch at-bat to lead off the game but strikes out, that’s still productive.

If nothing else, if the Mets lose Game 1 but force Kershaw to throw 120 pitches, that puts a strain on him for Game 5.

Secondly, the Mets can’t reinvent the wheel. All year, manager Terry Collins played Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda against left-handers. There’s no reason for him to deviate now.

Finally, assuming deGrom turns the game over to the bullpen in good shape, it must hold the lead or at least keep the game close. For the most part, Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard did the job, but the question of how to pitch to left-handed hitter Adrian Gonzalez remains an issue.

There you go, one, two, three. Simple as that,

***

I’d like to thank my friend Joe DeCaro for posting the feature on Justin Turner.

Oct 06

METS MATTERS: Harvey Misses Workout; Matz Throws

Mets Game 3 starter Matt Harvey missed a mandatory team workout today. He will be disciplined in-house, which would entail a fine.

mets-matters logo“One thing about having rich players: There’s a nice donation they’ll be making,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters this afternoon at Citi Field.

Harvey said he lost track of time, but phoned the Mets to tell them he was caught in traffic. Because of the conflicts Harvey has had with the Mets over his innings, it is easy to imagine the worst, but who among us hasn’t been caught in traffic?

Then again, there’s the old saying, “if you’re early you are never late.’’

Collins told Harvey to turn around and go home, but to his credit, Harvey showed up at Citi Field to work out, face the questions and not have his teammates bothered by the distraction.

That really is a plus on his behalf.

“Obviously today was not the greatest,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I know we had a mandatory workout. The last thing I ever want to do is not be here with my team. Basically there’s no excuse. I screwed up. I wasn’t here.

“I showed up a little late. I’ve talked to [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] and I’ve talked to Terry and my teammates and apologized to them and apologized to everybody. They understand. I’m here to get my workout in and be with the team.

“Unfortunately, today I screwed up. There’s not really anything else to say. They know what happened. I told everybody and apologized to everybody and told them it’s not going to happen again. It’s never happened before. Unfortunately, it happened kind of at a bad time, a mandatory time. Truly I just screwed up.’’

That’s as stand-up as a player can be. He didn’t blame Alred for not setting the alarm or Robin for warming up the Batmobile for him. He accepted responsibility and that’s all you can ask.

MATZ WORKS OUT: Rookie lefthander Steven Matz, earmarked to start Game 4 over Bartolo Colon despite only six career starts, threw a pain-free bullpen session. He will make a simulated game Thursday, and if there are no setbacks will start Game 4.

Matz, who has been sidelined with back spasms, is expected to throw 90 to 95 pitches in the game.

If Matz can’t go, the Mets are inexplicably considering using Jacob deGrom on short rest.

URIBE TO MISS NLDS: Infielder Juan Uribe, who hasn’t played since Sept. 25 because of a bruised cartilage in his test, will be left off the NLDS roster. Expect his sport on the roster to be taken by outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

 

Oct 06

Colon Should Get Start Over Matz

Why do the Mets continually try to re-invent the wheel? GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins will wait until after Thursday’s instructional league start by Steven Matz to make a decision on whether the rookie lefthander will start Game 4 of the NLDS against the Dodgers.

COLON: Should get NLDS start. (AP)

COLON: Should get NLDS start. (AP)

The 4-0 Matz has made six major league starts, but hasn’t pitched since Sept. 24 because of a stiff back that required an injection over the weekend. At 24 and with a bright future, I understand the long-term attraction in Matz.

Meanwhile, Bartolo Colon, whom the Mets paid $20 million the last two seasons, and has won 29 games and pitched 397 innings in that span. Colon, who during his 18-year career – which he says will continue – has won 218 games. Matz can only hope to win that many games or pitch as long.

What Colon did 10 years ago is irrelevant, but unlike corporate America, let’s not devalue the variable known as experience. I like Matz’s fastball and his future, but the Mets still win the NL East without him. They don’t win without Colon.

This is too much thinking on Alderson’s part. Colon has been there, done that, and regardless of his losing record outside the division, he has earned the right to pitch in the postseason.

Instead, he’ll be shuffled off to the bullpen.

Meanwhile, if Matz can’t go, Alderson – and I say Alderson because Collins doesn’t have the power to make these calls – is toying with starting Jacob deGrom, the Game 1 starter, on short rest. Doing so would handicap deGrom in the NLCS if the Mets are fortunate enough to advance.

It has been a long, but fun season, and the Mets are in the playoffs for the first time since 2006. However, they are there in large part because of Colon and not Matz.

Colon in the rotation is the right thing to do.

Oct 04

Mets’ Salute To Fans Enduring Image To Season

One by one the Mets drifted from their dugout after wrapping up their 90th victory of the season on a cool and crisp afternoon at Citi Field. Manager Terry Collins, who finally tasted a winning season with the Mets, was followed by David Wright, who missed nearly five months with a back injury and wondered if he’d ever play again, let alone see another playoffs.

There was Travis d’Arnaud, Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, who represent the future on this franchise. There was Yoenis Cespedes, who came here at the trade deadline and for over a month carried the Mets by the scruff of their neck. Daniel Murphy, whose future with the team could be in question.

WRIGHT: Thank you. (Getty)

WRIGHT: Thank you. (Getty)

There was Wilmer Flores, whose tears of anguish with the thought of being traded tugged at our hearts because he showed how much cared about being here and playing for us. That snapshot of Flores’ tears, along with Wright’s fist pump after scoring the winning run against the Nationals in early September, became the images of the season.

You can now add the Mets – in a unified group as they have been all season – slowly walking around the outer reaches of Citi Field. Out to right field they sauntered, saluting those in the bleachers in right and then left center, and finally down the left field line.

Collins shook hands with fans along the third base line. Then Flores. No tears this time; just the broadest, brightest smile you would ever see.

The cheering didn’t stop. Then Wright took a microphone and faced the crowd behind the Mets’ dugout.

“You guys are the best in the game, no doubt. Thanks for coming out,’’ Wright told the crowd that refused to let go of the moment. “Now, let’s go beat L.A.’’

Beating the Dodgers will be harder than just saying it, as the Mets, who scored just two runs in their last 44 innings, will face Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the Los Angeles twilight in Games 1 and 2 next weekend. However, for now the Mets will savor winning 90 games and reaching the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Studying scouting reports, figuring out the playoff roster and rotation will wait.

The Mets wanted to savor and sip this moment as if a fine wine.

“I sat here last October told our fan base that their patience will be rewarded,’’ Collins said. “I wanted to go around and thank everybody. Let them know we appreciated their support. Ninety wins is a huge step for us. We accomplished something. I just talked with Yoenis and he said, `the fun has just started,’ and he’s right. Yeah, we had a tough week, but we are ready.’’

So are we.

Oct 02

Things Still On The Line For Mets Against Nationals

UPDATED TO INCLUDE RAINOUT AND PITCHING CHANGES

For much of this season, the Mets pointed to this weekend’s series against the Nationals as critical to getting into the playoffs. Nobody thought it might be essential to get their heads screwed on straight. After mauling Cincinnati in four games to clinch the NL East, the Mets are scrambling to regain their sharpness after being swept in three games by the Phillies.

COLLINS:  Needs to make motivate his team. (AP)

COLLINS: Needs to make motivate his team. (AP)

After sweeping the Reds, manager Terry Collins projected a lull in his team’s adrenalin flow. He said yesterday he needs to channel his inner Knute Rockne.

“If you’ve been down this path, you knew that there was going to be an energy drain,’’ Collins said. “We always have a little scout meeting before the series and I will try to give my `A’ speech.’’

It’s not as if the Mets won’t have motivation as they are can still secure home field advantage in the NLDS with the Dodgers. The Mets’ 3-0 loss Thursday in Philadelphia coupled with the Dodgers’ 3-2 victory in San Francisco, leave the teams each with 89-70 records. However, the Mets hold the tiebreaker after winning the season series with the Dodgers, going 2-1 in Los Angeles and 2-2 at Citi Field.

Collins blamed pitching for the Mets’ showing in Philadelphia, but the offense is off its game, having scored only three runs in their last 18 innings.

Friday’s game is rained out, and will be made up as part of a doubleheader Saturday. The extra day might give Yoenis Cespedes a chance for his two bruised fingers on his left hand to heal enough so he can play. He would not have played Friday. The extra day could also help infielder Wilmer Flores‘s stiff lower back. It is questionable how much he’ll play this weekend.

Collins said his starters – Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard – will be limited to 80 to 90 pitches – but will he deviate with home field on the line? Syndergaard will start the day game Saturday and Harvey the night game while deGrom goes Sunday.

Collins isn’t concerned about the possibility of having to play a doubleheader – that’s almost expected – but hopes the Mets won’t have to play a make-up game Monday.

However, in looking at the big picture that won’t matter because regardless of what happens this weekend, the Mets will still be playing next week.